BLOG: Power Perspectives

Addressing Generator Set Vibrations

by New member Mhalicek on ‎04-12-2017 07:58 AM


Rigid body motion and vibration is well understood by most engine manufacturers and generator set assemblers who take the appropriate steps to develop the package to control excessive vibrations in their products. Nonetheless, all well designed and properly constructed diesel or gas engine driven power generating equipment (generator sets) will produce some level of vibrations that you need to be aware of.


In my discussions with generator set owners, operators and technicians, I often hear the challenges they face in meeting the emission standards established by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Compliance requirements vary based on many factors, including engine size, type of engine, the application – such as whether the generator set is targeted for emergency use or peak-shaving.  Often, the greatest challenge is understanding which regulations apply.


In the past, nuclear power plant (NPP) life requirements were 30 - 40 years. Today, those requirements have doubled as new NPPs need a 60-to-80-year design life.  Factor in the emergency diesel generators (EDG) and station blackout generators (SBOs) that could have been built several years prior, as well as the need to be ready to run during the decommissioning phase, and we could be in a range of a 70-to-90-year design life. Today’s blog will focus on the impact of requiring a longer life design for the EDGs and SBOs as a consequence of the evolution of NPPs. 


Since 2008, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has been phasing in a series of “tiered” emission regulations to reduce harmful exhaust gas for diesel powered equipment.  The standards require significant emission reductions of particulate matter (PM) and nitrogen oxides (NOx).


Today’s Tier 4 Final emission standards represent a 95% reduction in emission levels compared to non-regulated amounts. As government mandates, all new products must meet these requirements, but machine owners can still elect to use existing equipment.  


Therefore, the responsibility solely falls on engine manufacturers to not only meet these requirements but do so while maintaining qualities that are advantageous to the rental power industry such as performance, reliability, productivity and cost.


Microgrid 101

by Regular Contributor on ‎10-03-2016 09:00 AM

Microgrids are a current hot topic in the power generation industry.   It feels like you cannot go more than a couple of days without seeing another article on microgrids.  And no wonder – a recent Greentech Media report states that the US installed microgrid capacity is expected to grow 115% and reach 4.3GW over the next five years.   Outside of the US there is a lot of talk around rural electrification in developing regions – bringing power to remote communities with combinations of clean solar and energy storage to power villages that currently have no power.


Why Microgrids Are the New Power Generation Solution for Remote Locations

by New member Djohnston ‎09-15-2016 11:24 AM - edited ‎09-15-2016 11:27 AM

For years, microgrids have been a solution for powering remote locations without easy access to a larger, more reliable power grid. A microgrid is a group of interconnected loads and distributed generation sources that act as a single controllable entity used to power locations such as mine sites, telecommunication towers, remote villages, resorts and small islands. While the microgrid concept is not new, more efficient technologies and the declining costs of renewable energy solutions make microgrids a more viable option for power generation today.


When considering what type of generator set features and components to select for a particular application, specifying engineers probably don’t immediately think of seismic certification and wind load requirements. That is, of course, unless their project happens to be in an active seismic zone. But they should.


Few places, if any, around the globe are immune to natural disasters.  Whether it is earthquakes, hurricanes, floods, volcanic eruptions, tsunamis, or anything else, they threaten the ongoing operations of any business or mission-critical facility. In turn, increased scrutiny is being placed on ensuring that standby generator sets will perform in any type of emergency situation, regardless of location.


Preparing for an emergency outage situation may be one of the most important plans you create as it can save time, money and operation continuity. All it takes is a little time and practice to make sure you’re covered during an electrical outage.


In the previous blog, we detailed the first two steps for implementing an effective emergency response plan – determining the electric load and knowing the ins and outs of your facility. Today, we present two additional steps for developing an emergency power plan.


Implement a Rental Emergency Power Plan in Four Steps: Part I

by Visitor JFiorito ‎10-02-2015 01:05 PM - edited ‎10-05-2015 03:28 PM

According to a study by Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, blackouts cost the U.S. approximately $80 billion annually. By building a contingency plan that includes rental generators and a complete support package, you can react quickly and prevent the loss of revenue when you lose power. Rental equipment can keep your operations going at the level you deem necessary for as long as it takes for the utility to restore power.  Today’s blog includes the first two steps of the essential four-step guide for implementing an effective emergency response plan.



Generator Set Sizing: Training for SpecSizer Enhancements

by Visitor bakersj ‎06-12-2015 06:49 AM - edited ‎06-12-2015 06:50 AM

Since providing SpecSizer user training late last year, it’s been “business as usual” updating our generator set models, technical information and some of the algorithms – all in order to provide the most current and accurate data. Beyond that, we’ve been busy adding new loads to SpecSizer, including fire pumps and transformers, and we’re also preparing to release chiller loads. By expanding the load types that can be selected in SpecSizer, we are better able to assist you in identifying the generator set that best meets your needs.


Technology trends like big data and advanced communications continue to take the spotlight, and companies are emphasizing a need for data center solutions. Whether that means cloud computing, collocation or new data center construction, it’s something companies must explore on a case by case basis. Every situation has a different set of needs, so no two data center solutions are going to be exactly the same.


The Impact of Generator Set Underloading

by Visitor bjabeck ‎03-16-2015 06:49 AM - edited ‎03-16-2015 06:52 AM

System health and reliability are critical to backup and prime power solutions for any installation—from mission critical data centers to neighborhood grocery stores. While power systems vary in operation, application and load profile, they’re all designed to provide reliable power and maximized efficiency. The generator set is a key piece of the power system that requires special attention for long-term system reliability, availability and uptime. To achieve these, it’s important to understand system operation, load profile and required maintenance. This blog will focus on generator set operation in low-load scenarios, and what can result if they are used outside of specific parameters.



Comparing Generator Set Noise Levels

by Visitor rosbor on ‎12-18-2014 04:56 AM - last edited on ‎03-10-2015 03:52 PM by Visitor Deb_EP

Generator set sound levels vary greatly across the world because of different regulations regarding maximum noise levels. They can differ even further depending on other factors including the technology used by the generator set manufacturer, the measuring techniques and how the data is reported. This makes comparing noise levels from similar-sized generator sets confusing and in a lot of cases, imbalanced.


Dual-Fuel Technology: Reduce Costs and Maintain Power in Mobile Applications

by Visitor gillskd on ‎11-24-2014 08:46 AM - last edited on ‎03-10-2015 03:53 PM by Visitor Deb_EP

With natural gas production at an all-time high and natural gas prices falling, it would be prudent to consider this fossil fuel as an alternative source to traditional diesel-fueled power generation applications.  When it comes to productivity, however, the power and torque generated by diesel engines far surpasses that of similar sized natural gas engines.  One increasingly attractive solution that comprises the best of both worlds is dual-fuel technology, which allows one engine to run on two fuels.  




As a follow up to the SpecSizer 101 Basics introductory course, we’re looking forward to sharing a more comprehensive review of the Tool  with SpecSizer 201 Intermediate training. This presentation will cover tips and tool features/options to optimize your generator set selection, in order to size a more competitive, cost effective genset for your site application. The discussion will also include a brief discussion of nonlinear loads’ harmonics and distortion and how we mitigate the effects on the genset sizing with SpecSizer.  We’ll also review the SpecSizer page locations and process to view and utilize technical data imported daily into the Tool that helps you understand your genset selection, or provides you the technical information you need to make informed decisions on alternative genset selections for your spec and site application.


We first developed SpecSizer to help simplify the generator set sizing process for consulting specifying engineers, but it’s developed far beyond that since the legacy program was introduced in the 1980s. Our latest version provides comprehensive technical data, load models and algorithms to assist in identifying a properly sized generator set by considering factors such as site conditions, load characteristics and required performance.


The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency supports a cleaner diesel-fuel program to significantly reduce sulfur and produce an immediate improvement in air quality. This program also encourages the use of biodiesel, a non-toxic, clean-burning fuel that can be blended with traditional diesel in any percentage for use in standard petrodiesel engines without the need for modifications. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, biodiesel provides numerous environmental and economic benefits including reduced greenhouse gas emissions and increased engine efficiency.


IHS, a global information company, reports that more than $100 million was spent on uninterruptible power supply (UPS) in 2012 for healthcare and insurance applications in North America alone. It’s not a matter of whether or not UPS can be used in healthcare applications. Instead, we must figure out where the UPS should be applied in the electrical system.


We all know that we should pay attention to the mechanical components of an electrical system. These are essential not only for the proper operation of the entire system, but also for avoiding mishaps like arc flashes. However, we find that maintenance on electrical components like automatic transfer switches, circuit breakers, switchgear and UPS batteries are sometimes overlooked. There are many documented cases where failures and breakdowns of electrical systems have resulted in injuries, property damage, extended downtime, lost productivity, legal action and fines.


Caterpillar is a long-time sponsor of the 7x24 Exchange conference where mission critical professionals, who design, build, and operate data centers, come together twice a year to trade ideas on how to improve uptime and energy efficiency. The 2014 7x24 Exchange spring conference is scheduled for June 1-4 at the Boca Raton Resort and Club in Boca Raton, Florida.


Let Your Generator Set Breathe with a Remote Cooling System

by Visitor Pawelski on ‎05-19-2014 09:36 AM - last edited on ‎06-05-2014 11:52 AM by Administrator

Most standby diesel and gas generator sets are equipped with radiators to regulate temperature. However, there are times when it is better to use a remote cooling system for temperature control. In urban installations where the generator set is in a basement or on the ground floor of a building, it is often impractical to use a large air inlet on one side of the building and a large air exhaust on the other side. Implementing a remote radiator behind the building can be a much better option, because all the cooling noise is on one side of the building and most of the mechanical noise from the engine can be contained inside the power room. 


What to Expect with On-Site Power System Costs

by Contributor KelscNM on ‎04-23-2014 03:40 PM - last edited on ‎05-08-2014 09:18 AM by Administrator

Many times I’ve been asked to provide the price of a Caterpillar generator for people in the project planning process. They are typically looking for a back-of-the-napkin calculation to see if the power system investment, whether it’s an emergency system or cogeneration system, makes financial sense. I understand why people seek an estimated range—it’s a fast way to determine whether a project will fall within an anticipated budget or deliver a specific payback hurdle. If it’s reasonable, then they’re open to taking the next step. If it’s too much, then they look for another option elsewhere.


Reduce Start Time for Your Emergency Power Supply

by Visitor Power-Pop ‎03-25-2014 10:28 AM - edited ‎04-15-2014 01:23 PM

We don’t always think about our emergency power supply setup until it’s needed. However, managers of critical power applications, like hospitals and data centers, need to be prepared for any duration of power loss. Not only is the reliability of the backup system crucial, quick start times are required before an electrical load can be accepted. The longer it takes for the system to start, the longer a critical application goes without power.    


SpecSizer Moves Online

by Visitor bakersj ‎03-17-2014 08:57 AM - edited ‎03-17-2014 02:51 PM

Since the launch of SpecSizer in 2006, we have met with thousands of consultants around the world to make it the most convenient, useful software tool for genset sizing.  As Internet connectivity and mobile computing platforms have grown in popularity, it became clear that we needed to convert SpecSizer into an online application. With many new enhancements and useful modifications, the web-based version of SpecSizer provides new functionality that every user can undoubtedly utilize and appreciate.


Understanding our Customer’s Business - as Important as Understanding the Load

by New member Snyde ‎12-13-2013 08:07 AM - edited ‎12-13-2013 12:37 PM

A critical element in developing an effective UPS solution is gaining a deep understanding of not only critical loads, but also the overall business needs and growth plans for the customer.  Every site has unique power needs, obstacles to overcome, and definitions of success, so the more one is seen as a partner who understands the plan for the business, the better opportunity there is to achieve the goals and lay the foundation for future electric power needs


Reliable standby power provides protection in the event of power failure. For critical operations, like hospitals, data centers and water treatment plants, continuous power is essential. Standby applications inherently have limited hours of operation because they only kick on when there’s an interruption in power flow from the main source. Therefore, the more hours the dedicated standby system runs, the more important your fuel choice becomes.


Preventing Unscheduled Power Outages: Electrical System Maintenance

by Visitor Grant ‎10-15-2013 08:32 AM - edited ‎10-15-2013 10:29 AM

Imagine this: you’re completing a routine power station walkthrough before your shift ends. All of a sudden you hear a loud bang and duck your head as sparks fly across the room. You’re surrounded by darkness, and you hear machinery shutting down; you realize the power is out. It’s clear that you’re dealing with an unscheduled power outage, but what caused it? You investigate and discover the root cause to be a lack of maintenance.



The Future is BIM?

by Regular Contributor on ‎09-10-2013 03:06 PM

As a manufacturer of large equipment that is integrated into larger facilities, we are often asked for 3D models of our generator sets.  To meet these requests, our engineers take a genset model developed in our engineering software, remove any proprietary information, and then provide an “easy-to-use” 200Mb file—which turns out to be not as easy to use as it should be.


A Brief History of Renewable Energy Engineering at Caterpillar

by Contributor KelscNM on ‎08-19-2013 01:14 PM - last edited on ‎08-26-2013 11:09 AM by Administrator

I recently received an invitation by a Caterpillar customer, Luc Turcotte of EBI Energie, and our local Caterpillar dealer salesperson, Regis Drouin of Hewitt Equipment, to visit what was billed as the most advanced landfill-gas-to-energy (LFGTE) facility in North America. With that kind of billing, it was an offer that I couldn’t refuse... 



Who Reads This Caterpillar Marketing Stuff?

by Contributor KelscNM on ‎07-16-2013 03:11 PM - last edited on ‎08-26-2013 12:22 PM by Administrator

As a mechanical engineer by education, I’m still a little uneasy about carrying the word “marketing” in my job title. 


I spent the first ten years of my career at Caterpillar as a sales engineer and territory manager working in North and South America, calling on customers and consulting engineers who usually had a very real and very specific technical requirement that revolved around getting the right product or service to ensure reliable power for their business. It wasn’t only about meeting a business plan, but ensuring success for our customers, our dealers, and Caterpillar. Needless to say, this seemed like very serious, important stuff.


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